What will be the (possible) future of network processors?

Fulvio RISSO - assistant professor, Politecnico di Torino
Digital Security

Date: -
Location: Eurecom

Network processors, introduced some years ago, aimed at providing a flexible and powerful computational platform for network-oriented tasks. After several years, we can note that their objective of replacing ASICs (with their intrinsic flexibility problems) has been partially missed. In the meanwhile, we can assist to the deployment of many general-purpose processors (either MIPS-like, Intel, or PowerPC) even in high-end network devices, in order to address the need of flexibility. The (somewhat) limited usage of network processors in current network devices makes us wondering if those special-purpose CPUs were a good idea and whether better alternatives exists. This talk will give an insight of what happened in the past in the network processors market, what we can see right know looking at modern networn devices, and what we may expect to be the future computing platform for network processing tasks.